Imagine a holiday show that pairs outrageous lyrics with skits acted out in Shakespearean dialogue. Gale McNeeley has managed to combine them both in his new show “Gale McNeeley and the Satiricals.” The show is over an hour of singing, dancing and acting out songs originally by Tom Lehrer and the comedic material of Johnny Wayne and Frank Schuster.
McNeeley is accompanied by actors Joelyn Lutz, Brandon Crisler and Ashley Flannegan, while Betty Faas plays piano.
“We wanted to create an evening of laughter,” McNeeley said.
McNeeley, 60, creates shows that are different than what is being played locally; he particularly enjoys doing lighter shows because he said “we need comedy in this day and age.”
The thought of combining the three artists came to McNeeley because they all were popular around the 1960s and used the same type of humor.
Cal Poly students are familiar with Weird Al Yankovic, but what about Tom Lehrer?
Lehrer was popular during the late 1950s and into the 1960s. The Harvard mathematics student would record satirical songs on social and political events in his spare time. Popular Lehrer songs include “Pollution” and “I Hold Your Hand In Mine,” which is about a lover cutting off his girlfriend’s hand to nibble her fingertips.
Lehrer’s first CD, “Songs by Tom Lehrer,” had an initial release of 400 copies that were dispersed in and around the Harvard campus before winter break. Lehrer joked that students spread the music “like herpes” which caused a demand for more CDs. Round two saw 350,000 copies sold.
Crisler and Flannegan are both in their early 20s and were able to understand the humor in the pieces. Crisler knew words to some of Lehrer’s songs because his parents would play the CDs.
Crisler performed Lehrer’s song “The Chart” about the Periodic Table of Elements to the music of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General,” from the comic opera “Pirates of Penzance.”
The other element brought to the show is material by the Canadian comedy team Wayne and Schuster. The two were famous for their skit “Shakespearean Baseball,” where the entire team uses Shakespearean language, taking lines from Hamlet, Macbeth and Richard III.
In addition to “Shakesperean Baseball,” the group will perform “Rinse the Blood off my Toga,” a skit about Julius Caesar but set to a gangster murder mystery theme and dialogue.
“Even if people aren’t familiar with Shakespeare, people know pop culture and will understand the humor,” McNeeley said.
“We’ll give you a good show and bring a date, it’s something else to do besides going to the movies,” said Flannegan.
The first show debuts Saturday at the Unity Chapel of Light in Santa Maria at 7 p.m. Three shows will be performed at Linnaea’s Cafe at 1100 Garden St.: Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 8 and 9 at 8 p.m.
The last show is scheduled Dec. 17 at the San Luis Obispo County Library on the corner of Osos and Palm streets for a 2 p.m. matinee.
The suggested donation for admission is $10.